The Transfer Epidemic and Belmont’s 9-year streak
Players transferring between schools isn’t anything new in college athletics, and it’s not without good reason. If a player is recruited by a coach that leaves after a season, you can’t expect the player to stay when he went there to learn from that coach.
And there are other good reasons to allow player transfers. Family emergencies sometimes require players to move closer to their families, and they shouldn’t be required to give up their college career because of it. And let’s be honest, sometimes players are simply promised things that can’t be delivered.
But recently, those are hardly the only reasons players are leaving programs. Not getting enough playing time: go somewhere else. Not getting enough touches, try a different team.
That can’t solely be blamed on the players. Coaches can release players from their scholarships, leaving them no other choice but the transfer.
This year alone, CBSSports.com has put together a list of players transferring between programs, and it’s already exceeded 300. It’s likely to pass the 400 mark, which would mean, on average, more than one player per program will leave their program this season.
Which makes Belmont’s streak that much more amazing. In the last 9 years under Rick Byrd, not a single player has transferred out of his program according to CBSSports.com. That’s 2 complete classes.
The fact they Byrd has been the head coach at Belmont for 26 years clearly helps his cause. But that’s not the only reason. Jeff Neubauer will be entering his 8th year at the helm of Eastern Kentucky’s program, yet has 2 players transferring from his program this year alone.
One difference between the two programs: Belmont has been much more successful under Byrd than EKU under Neubauer. Success matters to players, and losing teams often struggle to keep their players.
While we hear more about the transfer epidemic at big schools, like at Mississippi State, the OVC isn’t without their fair share of transfers. While only 5 schools have players transferring out according to that CBSSports list (Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, Morehead State, UT Martin, and Tennessee Tech) they combine for 10 total player transfers, close to the one-per team average we’re seeing across the NCAA.
In the past, I’ve talked about how Belmont is a positive addition to the conference from a competitive standpoint, but they’re also one from a image standpoint. This isn’t just a program that wins at the mid-major level, it’s one that does so the right way.